Forest Schools

An inspirational process, that offers children and young people opportunities to achieve confidence and self esteem, through a hands on learning experience in a local woodland.

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What is Forest Schools?

"Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers children and young people opportunities to achieve confidence and self esteem, through a ‘hands on’ learning experience in a local woodland.’ (It is also possible to do this in some school grounds)"

National Definition: Forest Schools (England) Network

‘The Best Kind of Classroom’

by Ian MacMillan

This is the best kind of classroom,
It’s a journey through time and space,
From the smallest seed to the largest tree,
This is a forest and a learning place.
This is the best kind of classroom,
Where the seasons don’t happen in books.
Where the learning is watching and thinking and talking
And everyone looks.
A forest schools session in action

Some Significant Aspects and Values

Learning is play based and as far as possible, child initiated and child led
  • We go out in all but the most extreme weather
  • Appropriate risk taking is encouraged
  • There is a ritual or event that signals the beginning and end of each session


Research into the effect of Forest School shows that children develop:-
  • A positive attitude to learning
  • Independence and personal confidence
  • Language and communication skills
  • A range of physical skills
  • Increased social and emotional maturity
  • A greater understanding of their environment

A typical Forest School Session

Generally, a session can be split into the following categories:

  • Meet and Greet – Practitioner greets group and assesses needs.
  • Health and Safety – Practitioner shares any specific hazards from daily
  • risk assessment with group. At the beginning of a program certain procedures may need to be practiced through games e.g. behaviour around fire area.
  • Travel to site – Certain procedures may be in place for this e.g. walking on a rope chain, crossing roads, singing a song, carrying kit.
  • Idea ‘seeds’ – Practitioner gives an introduction to the session using a story, song, game, activity, special item, puppets, characters etc., to ‘seed’ ideas in the children. The specific ‘seed’ would be selected based on observations from previous sessions.
  • Free Choice – Children choose which activities they would like to engage in, adults may model certain ideas and skills to support learning.
  • Circle time – Time at the end of a session to reflect and share.
  • Closing – A song, action, story, activity that takes place to signify the end of the session.

At the beginning of a program the sessions would dedicate more time to establishing routines and health and safety procedures.

As a Forest School Leader I offer the following:

  • Discussion and correspondence with school leaders about the feasibility of delivering Forest School
  • Assessment and advice concerning your local woodland or your school grounds as a potential place for Forest School.
  • Negotiation with land owners
  • Carrying out risk assessments for the site
  • Producing risk assessments for al activities
  • Provision of all specialist equipment for the sessions
  • Giving presentations to teachers and parents about Forest School
  • Production of a Forest School Guide for teachers and parents